Trolls: World Tour Hits the Right Notes

A frenetic cartoon about different music genres finds harmony


Source: Dreamworks

Rock Queen Barb (Rachael Bloom) gives the stink eye to her pop rival Queen Poppy (Anna Kendrick) in Trolls: World Tour. Despite the reputation of the first film, this film is an interesting and fun exploration of music genres.

Janessa Dufour, Staff Writer

Trolls has a bit of bad reputation. When the original film starring Anna Kendrick and Justin Timberlake premiered two years ago, it was panned by critics and did not receive spectacular box office numbers. However, it did sell toys and became popular on video and streaming, which earned it the inevitable sequel. After the low quality of the first installment, I was not looking forward to Trolls: World Tour–the ads featured over a dozen different characters and I predicted the story to be a busy mess. But I was surprised: this is a fun (if sometimes dumb) kids film with a lot of interesting ideas about style and individuality.

Like the first film, Trolls: World Tour is all about music–I suspect this is why the first film caught on with kids, as they love music. But while the first film was all about pop influence, this explores a confluence of other music genres in a clever way. Queen Barb, the queen of the trolls who love hard rock (voiced by Rachael Bloom), decides that all trolls should only love rock and tries to take the magical guitar strings from the other tribes of trolls so they cannot play any music that is not rock. This puts her into direct conflict with Anna Kendrick’s Queen Poppy, the pop-loving protagonist of the first movie, who journeys to the various music themed troll villages in order to save them. While this could lead to an overly complex plot with too many characters (there are classical trolls and funk trolls and techno trolls and country trolls…), the film does a good job of balancing the characters and not making the audience feel like they have to know who every troll is.

The quality of this writing is surprisingly good compared to the first film. There are genuine surprises and clever reveals. From the description of the story, most audiences would predict that Poppy easily wins against Barb with her tolerant pop trolls winning the war of ideas against the aggressive rock trolls. But this isn’t what happens. Without giving too much away, a viewer should expect a film that really embraces the idea that sometimes the bad guys win. As the story progresses, Poppy fails to save several troll villages as they are decimated by the film. For a movie about colorful sugar loving creatures, the movie is more than willing to embrace darkness.

The voice cast is also stellar. Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, and James Cordon reprise their roles from the original and are pitch-perfect for their characters. Rachael Bloom is excellent casting as well, making Barb as scary a villain as a felt-looking troll girl can be. There are also countless cameos from music industry legends the various other genre-themed trolls, like Kelly Clarkson as Delta Dawn, queen of the country trolls; George Clinton as King Quincy, king of the funk trolls; and Mary J. Blige as Quincy’s wife Queen Essence. Even Ozzy Osborne appears, playing the role of Barb’s father King Thrash. And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention comedian Keenan Thompson as Tiny Diamond, prince of the Techno Kingdom–Tiny Diamond steals the show and was one of the best characters.

I can easily recommend this movie. If you enjoyed watching the first Trolls film, you’ll absolutely enjoy this one as your favorite characters return and the trolls lore is explored well. If you rolled your eyes at the last movie and just couldn’t wait for it to be over, then I would give this a chance. It is much more focused and interesting than the first film, and the musical performances alone are worth the price of streaming it. Now, it’s still a Trolls movie: expect dumb jokes, bright colors, and a sappy sweet ending. But if you have siblings to entertain or just want a couple hours of fun to turn your brain off, Trolls: World Tour is a great choice.

Trolls: World Tour is available to stream with purchase on Amazon Prime Video, AppleTV, Xfinity, Vudu, Google Play, and YouTube.